Monday, February 25, 2008

Wunning in a Winter Wonderland

Yes, "wunning" is part quest for perfect alliteration and part homage to my 4 1/2 year-old, who likes to ask me about my "wunning". This past weekend was interesting. After getting a nice, "pure" snowstorm on Friday, everything looked pristine again during two brilliant sunny weekend days. My 5-mile recovery run on Saturday turned into a 6+-miler. I took it very slow (mindful to keep my heart rate in the recovery zone) and felt fine.

Sunday's run was a scheduled 17-miler, the longest distance I've covered since the Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2007. I chose a scenic rural route which I hadn't run since last summer, and had forgotten just how hilly a "scenic" route tends to be. The panoramic winter views made the effort mostly worthwhile, but I'll admit that I had to work hard to keep a steady 9+minute pace. In addition to the hills, the shady parts of the route were still covered with snow and ice, making for very cautious jogging/walking/prancing. Given how I felt, though, it seems that I'm fatigued from the first 5 weeks of training. My HR stayed lower during the 17 miles (except on major hill climbs and the one incident where an unleashed dog came barrelling towards me, jumping up on me and growling) than it did for much of Saturday's recovery run, but I had no "spring" in my legs. My hip, lower back, thighs and knees all sort of bothered me, not really hurting, but feeling kind of tight and uncomfortable. I stopped a total of 6 times to stretch, drink and eat gels/sport beans. My last two miles were the fastest of the day (close to 8:30 pace), but it was a struggle to finish strong. I'm trying not to worry about pace at this stage in the long runs, but doubts do creep into my mind in terms of setting an aggressive marathon goal.

This week is a cutback week (oh, the joy), with a couple of 8-milers, easy recovery runs and a 12-mile long run on Sunday. The following week will be a big step up for me, with my longest ever lactate threshhold run (5M of a 10-miler) and my highest total mileage week ever (50+).

I'm still waiting for the weather to improve, but have been telling myself that I seem to have survived the hardest part of this training plan, so the rest should be challenging, but manageable, especially as my body continues to adapt to all this physical stress.


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